BRIDGEHAMPTON - The Material Girl is branching out.
Madonna is using a piece of property that she owns in Bridgehampton to sell trees. The property sits right next to her mansion, leading some to believe that the singer is using the trees to both create privacy and comply with zoning laws.
Madonna bought the property from a private owner soon after the town and the county purchased the development rights to it under a program that aims to protect farmland. Southampton town and Suffolk County officials say the land can never be developed; it can only be used for some type of farming, and it must turn a profit.
"The conversion to a tree farm was approved by the county, which allows her then to do that, or anyone else who owns the property," says Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.
But some local farmers are disappointed by the development. They say many are looking to expand their growing operations, but there isn't a lot of land available. Critics believe Madonna is simply trying to shield her property from the public and the paparazzi.
Officials from the Long Island Farm Bureau tell News 12 they believe that land in the Purchase of Development Rights Program should be used as an active agricultural operation, not as open space or as a buffer from neighbors.
News 12 was unsuccessful in its efforts to contact Madonna's representatives to get a comment for this story.